Billy The Kid is one of those rare figures in American history that remains a true mystery; because of the time period he lived in, when keeping detailed records wasn’t a high priority, and because of the many, many conflicting stories told about him over the years. Through the era of cinema, several films and documentaries have been made which focus on his outlaw shenanigans and his claim to killing 21 people, and it is for that reason that his reputation has become bigger than his personality. Many don’t realize that he was a New Yorker who made his way to New Mexico and took part in a violent land war there in defense of the Mexican-American ranchers, who revered him.
Because of their love for Billy–real name William Henry McCarty, Jr.–the desecration of his gravesite recently came as a terrible shock to the people of Fort Sumner.
Vandals apparently tipped over the headstone topping his grave, doing an unspecified amount of damage to it. They also stole several antique pieces of weaponry from nearby Fort Sumner Museum. No suspects have been taken into custody yet, but officials are offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information.
Billy found comfort in New Mexico and eventually fell in love with the daughter of a Mexican-American landowner. He refused to leave her behind even though he was being hunted down by a sheriff bent on revenge, which ultimately led to his death. Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson proposed a pardon for the Kid during his time in office but was never able to complete it before he was voted out. His proposal stirred up residents so much it sparked an international controversy, although many locals were in favor of the pardon. To them, he was an outsider who came and made a home with them and stood up for them against bankers and land thieves.
“His whole life he was searching for a home,” said filmmaker John Maggio, who directed a documentary about the legend. “There was more to him that the fact that he killed and was an outlaw.”